We know from countless spirituality and self-help books that authentic joy has no object—it is truly free and boundless. And yet, try as we might, how many of us can say that joy is more than a fleeting fleeting?
Daniel Odier’s approach, which is based in part on his study of Chinese Zen, is refreshingly straightforward. All it requires is a willingness to disengage from our habitual ways of thinking and practice being present throughout the day. He calls his method, “The Practice of Consciousness.” Its purpose is to unlock our spontaneity and recover our innocence and creativity. He writes,
“Consciousness manifests itself as presence. To work with presence is similar to learning a musical instrument, the body being our instrument. To enter this state, take a sensation such as water flowing into your hand or the feel of your bare feet on the ground. Enter deeply into the contact; breathe by relaxing your abdomen; and after fifteen or twenty seconds, leave the sensation and return to your habitual mode. Doing this thirty, forty or fifty times a day allows us to enter into a deep acquaintance with sensation.”
With a nod to Aldous Huxley, whose book Doors of Perception laid the groundwork for the psychedelic and sexual revolutions, Odier’s aim is nothing short of total human liberation. Still, he is realistic about the power that habit and our ingrained ways of operating in the world has over us. To counter them, he offers up some mischievous advice--like this,
“There is something suspect about our adoration of harmony. One of the things I fantasize about is replacing the Buddha on my altar with one of Caesar. The harmony of the Buddha puts us to sleep and makes us soft, but the chaos of Caesar can wake us up. Every morning before this altar we would abandon harmony in favor of the infinite possibilities that chaos represents.”
With Doors of Joy, Daniel Odier has discovered the trip-wire that keeps us from experiencing lasting joy and he gives us the tool kit that will bring it back into our lives for good.